The holiday season means food, fun and family, but it also means more expenses. For college students, buying presents for friends and family can add additional stress on an already tight budget.
Leslie Eubanks, sophomore in food science and technology, said she plans her budget before she goes out to shop. She also uses savvy shopping tactics to make her cash go even further. For expensive purchases, Eubanks said she uses online services.
"I set aside the money I need for bills ... and whatever is left is what I have to spend," she said. "It usually isn't much, but with coupons and store sales (and) clearance shopping, I can make it go a long way."
Nichole Indelicato, sophomore in biomedical engineering, also uses online services to shop smart and make sure she does not pay more than she should for products.
"I use Amazon just to get an idea of how much things are supposed to cost, (and) to make sure I'm not overpaying," said Indelicato. "I typically stick to in-store shopping and only go online when I can't find things in stores."
Some students turn to second-hand retailers, such as Goodwill, for bargain shopping.
"I go to Goodwill and other thrift stores for many items, and try and keep my ear to the ground for any personal sales, that way I can barter down the cost," said William Carpenter, sophomore in biochemistry and molecular biology.
Eubanks agreed with Carpenter.
"Doing a little thrift shopping is a great way to find obscure decorations, clothing, and little odds and ends that no one else will have," Eubanks said.
Kristen Sales, sophomore in English, agrees with Eubanks and Carpenter. Sales also tries to avoid name brands to save money.
"When I go shopping I try to go to Goodwill. If I go to a normal store, I try to stick with off-brands," Sales said.
Eubanks prefers to shop smart in stores, as opposed to online, to ensure the quality of the items she buys.
"Online shopping ... is not usually my route because I like to see the exact product that I am buying. With Craigslist and eBay it gets even sketchier because you have to trust ... random people," she said. "You don't know what kind of product you are going to get and what kind of condition it's going to be in, because 'very good' condition to me could mean something completely different to (someone else)."
Eubanks and Sales both said they don't typically shop for deals on Black Friday.
Carpenter said he shops on Black Friday whenever he is able to.
"I do (shop on Black Friday) when I'm able, and I do think I save (money). I compare prices across stores and online retailers no matter what season it is, but the deals after (Thanksgiving) are hard to beat," he said.
Christina Lulich, sophomore in architecture, also shops on Black Friday.
"I do (shop on Black Friday) if I have something specific I want and can find a deal worth getting up that early (for). If I buy something that day that I didn't plan on getting beforehand, I probably didn't save any money, but I don't think that happens often," she said.
Lulich also crafts hand-made gifts to save money.
"I think making gifts is one of the most cost-efficient ways of holiday shopping," she said. "Hand-made gifts are also usually the most meaningful gifts. I'm making most of the gifts I'm giving this year."